August 9th Litany

As David cried for his son, Absalom, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” we cry out today for our daughters and sons who are lying in the ground, for those who will forever mourn their loss, and for those who believe the grave is their only destiny.

For Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michelle Cusseaux, Kindra Chapman, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Janisha Fonville, Tanisha Anderson and all our daughters and sons who have died in the past year because of police violence.
Holy God, have mercy

For the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, daughters, lovers and friends who come over a way that with their tears has been watered.
Holy God, have mercy

For us as a nation, built on the tortured labor of stolen black bodies, who still come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.
Holy God, have mercy.

From the acceptable invisibility of black children, of black babies.*
Merciful God, deliver us

From the criminalization of poverty and of people who do not have access to excessive resources*
Merciful God, deliver us

From living in a nation and a city where it is acceptable for many to have a whole lot and for many more to not have enough.*
Merciful God, deliver us

From black girls and black boys getting a substandard education and then getting blamed for not being able to get a job.*
Merciful God, deliver us

From neighborhoods that are criminalized and villainized because they are populated by black people.*
Merciful God, deliver us

From black boys and black girls living in poverty and not able to have recreational resources and facilities, and then because they are still brilliant and ingenious, creating their own collaboratives on street corners and in alleys and in streetways, and then having those areas victimized and villainized and criminalized.*
Merciful God, deliver us

For the voices who proclaim “We are the children of God, the sun-kissed children of God, and until we are treated like everybody else, we are not going to shut up.”*
Gracious God, we thank you.

For the courage and power of those who protest, who have begun to awake the slumbering giant of this nation long deaf to the cries of the oppressed.*
Gracious God, we thank you.

For those who have preceded us in the struggle, for whom Day One was decades or even centuries past, and from whom the torch has been passed to us.
Gracious God, we thank you.

For those whose consciences have been pricked, ears have been opened, minds have been challenged and hearts have been softened in the year since Michael Brown lay in the street in Ferguson.
Gracious God, we thank you.

For the wisdom, strength and courage for people who believe themselves to be white to seek transformation and not exoneration.+
Loving God, we beg you.

For the wisdom, strength and courage for police officers, municipal officials, judges and all who are in authority boldly to name sin and injustice in their own ranks, and for the wisdom and courage for the rest of us to have their backs when they do.
Loving God, we beg you.

For your protection for those who dare to love in the face of hate, who dare to sing as they are spit upon, who dare to be seeds as the dirt is shoveled over them.
Loving God, we beg you.

We lay our grief before you.
We find our strength within you.
We set our hope in your everlasting love.
Amen.

*these petitions are based on Traci Blackmon’s answer to the question “Why do you protest?” during a forum at Christ Church Cathedral on March 8, 2015.

+this petition is based on language from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World And Me